MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The regulation deadlock between the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and transport network companies (TNC) reached a new point on Monday, August 14, after Uber's operations were suspended for one month.
With the LTFRB's order, commuters using ride-hailing apps are now turning to Uber's main competitor, Grab, whose operations continue despite also being tangled in the regulation issue with the LTFRB. (READ: What's the fuss about the Grab, Uber regulation issue?)
But why was Grab not suspended?
Grab's accreditation expired last July and has not been renewed, but Grab has so far complied with the LTFRB's orders to stop accepting and accrediting new drivers – the rule that Uber supposedly violated.
Grab also immediately submitted to the LTFRB its masterlist of peer drivers when the government board wanted to set a June 30 cutoff for drivers whose permits would be considered. Uber dilly-dallied, on the the other hand.
Rappler takes a look back at previous orders the LTFRB issued, and how the two TNCs responded to the orders.
July 21, 2016 – Moratorium on processing new driver applications
The LTFRB releases Memorandum Circular 2016-008, which suspends the acceptance and processing of applications for Uber, Grab, and other TNCs.
The order stops the release of temporary permits to Grab and Uber vehicles.
But Grab and Uber would later admit they continued to accept new drivers despite this order, citing strong passenger demand.
"Admittedly, we accepted because if we stopped accepting we might as well have closed down the business. New drivers come in and fall out if we do not replace the drivers... we would lose drivers and not be able to serve our [customers]," Grab country head Brian Cu would later say.
July 11, 2017, order
For defying its order to stop accepting new drivers, the LTFRB imposes a fine of P5 million each on Uber and Grab. Both companies comply with the order.
The LTFRB also orders both companies to remove all drivers with expired or no permits.
Grab stops activating new drivers only on July 17, while Uber stops on July 18.
July 26, 2017 order
The LTFRB orders Grab and Uber to deactivate drivers who registered in their systems after June 30, 2017.
It also orders both companies to provide a master list of all their drivers as of June 30, 2017.
At the time of the issuance of the order, LTFRB board member Aileen Lizada says they have only received Grab's list. Uber communications head Cat Avelino says they will submit theirs on July 27.
August 1, 2017 show-cause order
On August 1, the LTFRB issues a show-cause order to Uber, after it finds the TNC has continued to accept new drivers into its system despite being ordered to stop doing so last July 26.
The board says Uber may lose its accreditation because of its action. Uber's accreditation expires in August, while Grab's expired last July 3 but hasn't been renewed.
Uber, however, denies the findings of the LTFRB, saying it has already suspended activations since July 19.
August 14, 2017 suspension order
Nearly two weeks after it issued a show-cause order, the LTFRB suspends Uber's operations for one month.
The board cites Uber's post on its Twitter account last August 1, where the company said that applications for vehicles were "being accepted but not processed, as we are optimistic that with the ongoing discussions with the LTFRB, ridesharing has a path forward."
"The Respondent's official statement as cited above is a clear admission on its part that it continued to accept applications despite the explicit order of the board," the LTFRB says.
Uber posted a clarification on its Twitter account on August 2, saying it was also unable to accept applications for new vehicles.
In its order, the LTFRB says Uber has accepted and activated at least 3 vehicles on July 27.
The suspension order takes effect on Tuesday, August 15. Uber also releases a statement on its suspension of operations starting 6 am. (READ: Uber apologizes to LTFRB for 'misunderstanding')
Some 52,000 Grab vehicles remain operational.
Since the suspension
In the aftermath of the suspension, Uber requested that the penalty be changed to a fine. The LTFRB will hear Uber's new request on August 23.